The departure of Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and the naming of his initial replacement, Lisa Feldt, who will be in an acting role, took the number one and three spots in the top stories list for Energy and Climate Report for the week ending Aug. 8. Technology using ice to meet cooling demands in a commercial building was the second top story, followed by a lawsuit filed by 12 states over EPA's proposed carbon rules for existing power plants and a study on the expansion of shale drilling methods.
1. Candidates to Replace Perciasepe Unclear; Difficult Confirmation Process Anticipated
It is unclear whom the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency will choose to succeed departing EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, but whoever is selected is expected to face a difficult confirmation process in the Senate, sources told Bloomberg BNA, as covered in this story.
Various former federal officials and industry attorneys said any replacement will need to have a strong understanding of the EPA and be able to serve as an effective communicator between the agency leadership and the agency's regional offices, state environmental agencies and the regulated community.
They agreed that the deputy administrator position requires a unique skill set and that it will be difficult for the EPA to replace the well-regarded Perciasepe, who left the agency to become the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
Sources also agreed that whoever the administration chooses to nominate will likely face difficulty in obtaining confirmation by the Senate, which could make the position less attractive to outside candidates.
2. Goldman Sachs Icy Tanks Seen as Path to Meet Carbon Rules as Coal Plants Retire
This feature story explains how 92 tanks with enough ice for 3.4 million margaritas are clustered deep beneath the trading floors of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Manhattan headquarters.
Goldman runs chilled anti-freeze through pipes connected to the 11-ton vessels during summer nights—when power costs less—to freeze the water. That ice is used the next day in its air-conditioning system, when high-demand electricity comes with a surcharge.
Proponents of so-called thermal storage systems such as Goldman's, which have roots in the New England ice houses of the 18th century, are pushing to expand its use. And they see it as a way to help utilities comply with future carbon rules as well as to store power from rooftop solar panels or wind farms whose output often surges when demand is low.
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3. Feldt Tapped as EPA Acting Deputy Administrator to Replace Perciasepe
As detailed in this story, Lisa Feldt will serve as the EPA's acting deputy administrator, replacing Bob Perciasepe, Administrator Gina McCarthy announced Aug. 7.
Feldt is the agency's associate deputy administrator and previously was the deputy assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response. "I have full confidence that she will be able to step in and carry the baton where Bob's left off,” McCarthy told EPA staff Aug. 7, according to a copy of her prepared remarks.
Feldt was appointed associate deputy administrator in 2013.
4. 12 States Ask Appeals Court to Overturn EPA Settlement on Power Plant Carbon Rules
As covered in this story, West Virginia and 11 other states asked a federal appellate court Aug. 1 to overturn a 2010 settlement in which the EPA agreed to issue carbon dioxide standards for power plants.
The states argue that the EPA cannot issue carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act after it already regulated the power plants' hazardous air pollutant emissions under Section 112, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in an Aug. 1 statement, “Our office will use every legal tool available to protect coal miners and their families from the Obama administration and its overreach.”
The lawsuit was filed by West Virginia, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.
5. Expanded Use of Shale Drilling Methods Outpaces Research on Impact, Study Finds
Scientific understanding of the effects of hydraulic fracturing and other methods of extracting natural gas from shale rock has not kept pace with the rapid expansion of the industry in North America—as covered in this story—leaving researchers with a limited grasp of what drilling could be doing to wildlife and plants, said a study published July 31.
The study in the peer-reviewed journal “Frontiers in Ecology” involved several U.S. and Canadian conservation biologists and organizations, and was led by British Columbia's Simon Fraser University.
“Biotic Impacts of Energy Development From Shale: Research Priorities and Knowledge Gaps” said shale development can contaminate surface and groundwater, cause localized pollution and ultimately emit greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.
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